What is animal testing in cosmetics and how did it start?

Animal testing has been used for centuries, initially for medicinal purposes and later in the cosmetics industry.

Animal testing in the cosmetics industry it is estimated that started around the sixties. An incident in which an American woman lost sight in one eye after applying an eyelash volumizer generated a debate about the safety of cosmetics. As a result, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required these products to be tested on animals before human use..​

How does testing affect animals?

Each year, it is estimated that more than 500,000 animals worldwide are subjected to tests that include prolonged exposure to chemical products. to measure irritation to your eyes and skin, ingestion of compounds, aspiration of irritants, and more. Many of these animals die in laboratories.. The animals most commonly used for cosmetic testing are rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats., not necessarily because they have especially human-like characteristics, but because they are easy to maintain, quick to reproduce, and cheap to feed.

The fate of the animals after experimentation

What happens to the animals at the end of the study depends mainly on their health and the objectives of the experiment. If the circumstances arise and after being evaluated by a veterinarian, animals can be kept and reused in further research.

In other cases, Animals must be euthanized by euthanasia, that is, in a humane way, since it is necessary to examine their organs and tissues. The euthanasia process is regulated by the European Directive and transposed into national law in RD 53/2013, which describes the appropriate methods for each species in order to minimize suffering during slaughter.

Is Animal Testing Really Necessary for Cosmetics?

Animal testing for cosmetics has been common industry practice for many years. The objective of these tests is to evaluate the safety of ingredients and products before they are released on the market.. However, the need for animal testing in the cosmetics industry is an ongoing and complex topic of debate.

On the one hand, some argue that animal testing is necessary to ensure the safety of cosmetic products. They argue that some side effects or risks can only be identified through animal testing.

On the other hand, there is a growing awareness and concern for animal welfare. Many people and organizations believe that it is inhumane and ethically wrong using animals for testing products that are essentially luxury and not necessary for human survival. Furthermore, they argue that there are alternative methods to test the safety of cosmetic products without the need to test on animals.

In response to this concern, a number of alternative non-animal test methods have been developed and validated. These include the use of human cell cultures (in vitro), computer simulations, and testing with human volunteers. These techniques are increasingly accepted and used in the cosmetic industry.

In many parts of the world, cosmetic testing on animals is becoming increasingly regulated or prohibited. The European Union, for example, has banned all animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients since 2013.

Do products free from animal testing lose their quality or effectiveness?

Not necessarily. The fact that a cosmetic product is "free of animal testing" does not mean that it is of lower quality or effectiveness than those that have been tested on animals.. The quality and effectiveness of a cosmetic product are not determined by the testing method used to assess its safety.

In fact, some argue that alternative testing methods may be more relevant and accurate. Tests on human cell cultures (in vitro tests) and computer simulations may provide results more directly applicable to humans than animal tests. This is because animals do not always respond to substances in the same way as humans..

Additionally, many animal-free products contain ingredients that have already been tested and are known to be safe. These products are often formulated with natural and organic ingredients that are less likely to cause adverse reactions than the synthetic chemicals found in some cosmetics.

Finally, it's important to remember that "free from animal testing" is not the only factor to consider when evaluating the quality of a product. Factors such as the effectiveness of the product, the ingredients used, the ethics of the company, and consumer reviews should also be taken into account..

Which European countries have banned cosmetic testing on animals?

The testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals was first banned in the UK in 1998, and then en the 27 countries of the European Union between 2004 and 2013. This turned the European Union in the largest market for cosmetics free of animal cruelty in the world. This initiative was followed by other countries such as Israel, India, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Australia, Colombia, Guatemala, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, 10 Brazilian states and four from the United States.

What is the situation in Spain?

In Spain, 761,000 uses of animals were registered in different scientific research applications in 2020, which represents 46% less than in 2009, when the use of animals in experimentation began to be counted. Although on many occasions the animals are sacrificed when necessary to end the experiment, it may also be the case that the same animal is used several times.

Where is cosmetic testing on animals legal?

In countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), their current legislation neither prohibits nor requires animal testing to demonstrate product safety​​. In China, animal testing law is still in effect on some everyday products which has led several foreign companies that want to market their products in China to sign an agreement with the Chinese government allowing such tests.

How to identify a product that is free of animal testing or cruelty free?

To identify a product that is free from animal testing or "cruelty free", you must check its packaging. There are several seals that indicate that the product has not been tested on animals, you can find out about the seals in the article vegan and cruelty-free certificates in cosmetics.

In any case, in Europe animal testing has been prohibited since 2013, so we can consider it an indicator if the product is marketed in European Union countries.

The future of cosmetic animal testing

As for the future of cosmetic animal testing, it seems there is a push towards a total ban on this practice. The European Union is challenging a global ban on animal testing to make cosmetics by 2023. Since March 2013, a law has been in force in the EU that prohibits the experimentation of cosmetic products on animals. However, about 80% of the world's countries still allow animal testing to make cosmetics.

Scientific advances, such as in vitro testing and other alternative testing methods, are making the use of animals to test the safety and efficacy of cosmetic products less and less necessary. As public awareness of animal welfare continues to grow, we are likely to see a decline in the use of animals for cosmetic testing and an increase in legal prohibitions against this practice in the future.

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